A teenager's innocent mistake nearly cost him his life at a popular Aussie swimming spot, prompting a dire warning from officials to practice caution at the beach this summer.
Perth man Jacob Eggington, 18, was swimming at Shoalwater Beach Monday looking for shells to "show his niece" when he accidentally pocketed a blue-ringed octopus — one of the most venomous creatures known to man.
The sea critter, no bigger than the palm of a hand, had been inside a shell when Jacob — from Palmyra — picked it up. After placing it in his pocket, things could've been much worse, because if he hadn't spotted it mere moments later, the deadly animal would've ended up in the hands of his toddler niece.
Killer critter 'could've been handled by toddler'
The unlucky teen's older brother recounted the scary moment as the group collected shells.
"That's probably one of the more dramatic thoughts to think what could have happened," Eggington's brother Joshua told 7News. "So in the same way, he did get bitten, but he also probably saved one of his nieces or nephews lives."
Soon after, Jacob noticed a "small, painless bite" on his leg, and after emergency services were called, he was quickly taken from the sand on a stretcher to a nearby hospital.
With no antidote available, treatment took a total of six hours to stabilise the 18-year-old, saving his life from one of the world's most deadly toxins. Had Jacob not noticed the bite, "he could've been dead within half an hour".
Expert's stark warning to beachgoers
Marine scientist Jennifer Verduin said blue-ringed octopuses are so common at Perth beaches that she doesn't enter the water without a pair of reef shoes.
"They're very good at hiding so we wouldn't normally see them that often, but they are," she said.
The deadly sea creatures are found all around the country, including in w as far south as Tasmania. They're experts at camouflage and can kill a person in roughly 26 minutes.
According to The Australian Museum, the species uses “an extremely powerful venom” to kill its prey including crabs and small fish. A viral video circulating last year showed one being handled by an unwitting Aussie.
Ian Tibbetts, Associate Professor at the University of Queensland told Yahoo News Australia the social media trend showing people handle these creatures is "alarming stupidity".
"Someone might die doing this," he warned at the time.
Should someone come into contact with one of the creatures, the advice is to remain completely still and immediately call Triple-0.
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